Marty Feldman was a British comedic mastermind who never missed an opportunity to turn his unique physical features into a punchline. Feldman shot to fame in Mel Brooks’ 1974 hit film Young Frankenstein, where he portrayed the character of Igor with a distinct pronunciation: “Eye-Gor.”
Unfortunately, Feldman’s physical appearance was not a mere act. He suffered from Graves’ disease, also known as thyroid eye disease, which caused his eyes to protrude and become misaligned. This condition made his life difficult, as he was relentlessly bullied as a young man and even faced taunts from his employer in show business.
Despite the challenges, Feldman refused to be defined by his appearance and instead focused on perfecting his writing and acting craft. He understood that others would always notice his differences, but he used this to create hilarious and memorable characters.
Feldman’s career was ultimately a huge success story, with his comedic talent and unique persona endearing him to worldwide audiences. Sadly, his life came to a tragic end, but his legacy as an icon of comedy lives on.
The glitz and glamour of Hollywood are often associated with stunningly beautiful celebrities who appear to have won the genetic lottery. However, not all Hollywood stars fit this description, and physical attractiveness is not a prerequisite for becoming a star.
Over the years, we’ve seen many actors with unique looks, some attributed to different conditions or disabilities. Michael Berryman, known for his role in The Hills Have Eyes, has become a role model for aspiring actors who may have physical differences that set them apart from Hollywood’s conventional beauty standards.
Having confidence in oneself is crucial to success, regardless of perceived flaws. Accepting and embracing one’s unique appearance is a powerful tool in the entertainment industry. It can make a performer stand out and leave a lasting impression on audiences. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Hollywood has proven time and time again that diversity and individuality are valued traits that can lead to stardom.
Marty Feldman – the unique Hollywood star
Accepting oneself is crucial when it comes to feeling comfortable in one’s skin. It can be tough to achieve, but it’s important to strive for it. While some may resort to drastic measures such as surgery to change their appearance, others embrace their unique features and celebrate their individuality.
If you decide to pursue surgery, it’s important to seek the guidance of a reputable specialist. After all, your body is at stake, so it’s essential to do your research and choose wisely.
One example of someone who embraced their individuality and unique appearance is the late Marty Feldman, a renowned comedian, and actor. Despite his thyroid eye disease causing his eyes to protrude, he never let it hold him back. Instead, he used his distinct look to his advantage and successfully succeeded in his career.
It’s all about feeling confident in your skin and embracing who you are.
Rainer Binder/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Marty Feldman – early life
Marty Feldman’s life began in London, England, on July 8, 1934. Growing up in the Canning Town area of the East End, he came from a family of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. Feldman remembered his family being poor and frequently moving between accommodations due to difficulty paying rent.
Feldman didn’t have an easy time in school as he was often the only Jewish student and was bullied by classmates and even some teachers. He disliked attending classes and ran away from school or got expelled multiple times. He found refuge in comedy, which he found amusing and a way to cope with the unpleasantness of his school experience.
Comedy became Feldman’s escape and passion, and he became inspired to pursue it after seeing Danny Kaye perform at the London Palladium. He started performing comedy at bar mitzvahs, hoping to kickstart his career. However, his early attempts did not go well, as he once stole material from Jack Carson and Mickey Rooney, which led to an unimpressed audience.
Feldman’s humor had not yet found its footing, but he persevered, and eventually, his comedy became renowned, earning him international acclaim as a comedian and actor.
Marty Feldman was born with a distinctive appearance due to his thyroid condition, which was later identified as Graves’ disease. His eyes protruded and were misaligned, making him stand out from the crowd. Despite this, Feldman never let his condition hold him back and instead used his unique appearance to his advantage in his comedic career. His distinctive look became part of his persona, and audiences loved him for it.
The eye condition Graves’ disease
Marty Feldman’s unique physical appearance was due to his thyroid problem, which caused his eyes to bulge out of their sockets. Additionally, a tracheotomy he underwent as a child and his involvement in boxing for the Jewish Lads Brigade, which resulted in numerous nose breaks, gave him a distinct look he would eventually embrace.
Feldman didn’t have a traditional education and dropped out of school before his 15th birthday. After trying his hand at jazz in Paris, he discovered his true calling in comedy and began writing poetry and sketches. It wasn’t long before his talent caught the attention of a seasoned comedy writer, John Law, who opened doors for him.
Feldman’s big break came when he landed a writing gig at the BBC, where he contributed to a show called Educating Archie. He later became the chief writer and script editor of The Frost Report, a satirical show that introduced John Cleese to British television viewers. It was also the platform that catapulted Feldman to fame as a comedy sensation.
Marty Feldman’s writing talent brought him into the world of showbiz, and his involvement with The Frost Report helped him find his true calling. When the series ended, David Frost invited the writers to create a comedy special and include themselves. Although the other three writers had more experience in performing, Feldman was included as well. He participated in the pilot film as a performer, and to everyone’s surprise, the show was a success. This was the beginning of Feldman’s comedy career, which would eventually lead him to Hollywood and international stardom.
“The eyes will frighten people.”
Feldman continued to make strides in his career as a comedy writer, collaborating with Berry Took on various projects that included popular sitcoms like The Army Game and Bootsie and Snudge. Their partnership also yielded three episodes of the BBC comedy series Round the Horne, which boasted an impressive 15 million listeners per episode during the mid-1960s.
Despite his success, Feldman’s physical appearance became an issue when he joined The Frost Report. The show’s host, David Frost, reportedly had concerns about Feldman’s unique look, particularly his bulging, misaligned eyes. Frost even went so far as to express worry that Feldman’s appearance might scare away viewers, threatening to leave the show if he received too much airtime.
In 1967, Feldman boldly stepped out from behind the camera to perform alongside other notable comedians in At Last the 1948 Show, including future Monty Python members Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and John Cleese. Despite David Frost’s initial reservations about Feldman’s appearance, the show was a resounding success and ultimately led to the creation of Monty Python.
In the 1970s, Feldman shifted his focus to on-screen roles, landing the lead in the 1970 comedy film Every Home Should Have One. He appeared in other films and television shows, including Young Frankenstein, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, and Marty Feldman’s Comedy Machine. Despite achieving success as an actor, Feldman never abandoned his passion for writing, often collaborating on scripts for the projects he starred in.
Geluidwiki – Gallery /Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.
After years of honing his comedic craft behind and in front of the camera, Marty Feldman finally got his big break in Hollywood in 1974. This came in the form of a role in the Mel Brooks-Gene Wilder classic Young Frankenstein. Feldman’s unique look and comedic timing were a perfect fit for the role of Igor, and he stole many scenes with his hilarious performance.
The film was a commercial and critical success, becoming a classic of the comedy genre and cementing Feldman’s status as a comedic talent to be reckoned with. He continued to work in film and television throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, with roles in movies like The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother and TV shows like Marty, a short-lived series he created and starred in.
Sadly, Feldman’s life and career were cut short when he died of a heart attack at 48 in 1982. However, his legacy lives on through his work, which continues to inspire and entertain new generations of comedy fans.
Marty Feldman in ‘Young Frankenstein’
Marty Feldman’s talents were well-recognized by his peers, and his unique appearance only added to his allure. Mel Brooks, for one, was particularly fond of Feldman and cast him as Igor in Young Frankenstein. Brooks found Feldman’s wandering eyes endearing and was thoroughly impressed with the actor’s performance despite the challenge of directing him.
Despite his success, Feldman knew he would never be a conventional leading man due to his physical appearance. He had a happy family life with his wife and two children and embraced his unique look, believing it added to his novelty and charm as an entertainer. To him, being a “lousy actor” with a straightened nose was not worth sacrificing what made him stand out from the crowd.
Marty Feldman seemed to have it all with his successful career, happy family life, and a strong sense of self. However, his life would take a tragic turn in the coming years, leaving behind a legacy that still resonates with fans today.
Actor Marty Feldman and his wife, Lauretta Sullivan. (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Marty Feldman’s physical appearance was never something he was particularly pleased with, describing it as the result of a series of unfortunate events. However, accepting his unique look was likely one of the best things he could have done for his career and overall happiness. Feldman’s unconventional appearance even landed him his late-night variety show, The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine, although it was sadly short-lived. In 1975, Feldman appeared alongside Gene Wilder in the film The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, showcasing his comedic talent to audiences yet again.
Tragically, Marty Feldman died of shellfish poisoning.
Marty Feldman was a true talent in front of and behind the camera. He proved that being different can be a strength rather than a weakness, as his unique looks and humor captivated audiences worldwide.
Despite facing rejection early on in his career due to his appearance, Feldman never gave up. Instead, he focused on honing his writing skills, eventually becoming a successful scriptwriter and co-creator of hit sitcoms.
Feldman’s big break came when he stepped before the camera, showcasing his incredible talent for physical comedy and hilarious improvisation. From there, he starred in some of the biggest comedy hits of the time, including Young Frankenstein and The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother.
Not content with just being in front of the camera, Feldman also tried his hand at directing. While his films may not have been box-office successes, they still showcased his incredible creative vision and unique sense of humor.
Tragically, Feldman’s life was cut short, but his legacy lives on. He will always be remembered as one of the great comedic talents of his time, a true icon whose influence can still be seen in the comedy world today.
Marty Feldman was a brilliant comedian and a genuinely kind-hearted and down-to-earth person. His unique appearance may have caused him some challenges, but it never stopped him from pursuing his dreams or treating others respectfully and kindly. He was beloved by many for his humor and the love and humanity he radiated to everyone he met. His friend and fellow actor Henry Pollack remembered him fondly for his ability to approach everyone as equals, and it’s no surprise that children loved him.
Despite his success and fame, Marty never lost his humility or forgot where he came from. He remained true to himself and never cared what anyone else thought of him. This quality made him an inspiration to many, and his story is one worth sharing with friends and family.
Mel Brooks, who worked closely with Feldman, spoke highly of him and expressed his difficulty finding the right words to express his loss. But what he could say for certain was that he would miss him dearly. Feldman was a true gem of the entertainment industry; his legacy lives on through his work and the memories he left behind.
So let us honor the great Marty Feldman, not just for his talent and humor but for his unwavering spirit and kind heart. Let us be inspired by his story and learn from his example that we should always be ourselves and treat others with kindness and respect, no matter their differences or uniqueness.
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